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Boys? and girls? ability to comprehend school book texts in sixth grade

Tuula Merisuo-Storm ()
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Tuula Merisuo-Storm: University of Turku, Department of Teacher Education in Rauma

No 3104621, Proceedings of International Academic Conferences from International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences

Abstract: When studying almost any area in the school curriculum, the students use texts to acquire new information. It seems that for the students in primary, and especially, in secondary school, the textbooks are still today an important source of information. A considerable part of the time the students spend in their classroom and doing their homework is involved in textbook material.The goal of the study was to find out how well sixth graders (11?12 year-olds) comprehend the textbooks used in the sixth grade history and natural sciences classes; and if there are differences in the girls? and boys? reading comprehension skills. Altogether, 247 students (122 girls and 125 boys) took part in the study. About half of them read the text about whales in their natural science book and the other half the text about the great wall in China in their history book. After reading the text, the students answered ten questions and explained the meaning of the ten words underlined in the text. The results show that the students in both groups had no difficulties in answering those questions to which the answers were directly found in the texts. However, those questions proved to be difficult that required inference skills. The girls succeeded in both groups significantly better than the boys in answering the questions (t= 3.57, p= .000; t= 2.73, p= .008). For instance, there were two questions related to the history book chapter that not a single boy was able to answer correctly. Deriving the meaning of the words from the text context and explaining them proved to be even more demanding. The girls were significantly more skilful in explaining the words in the natural sciences book than the boys (t= 2,70, p= .008) but in explaining the meanings of the history book concepts there was no significant difference between the genders. The results of the study show that there are many students who enter secondary school with very poor reading comprehension skills. Therefore, it is important that the students are taught to comprehend texts related to different school subjects. They should learn to choose the best strategies when reading various types of texts. The textbooks of different school subjects may be constructed differently and contain different vocabulary and concepts. Consequently, the students need to be taught how the text context helps to understand the meaning of an unfamiliar word.

Keywords: reading comprehension; gender; textbooks; deriving the meaning of words (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 11 pages
Date: 2015-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme and nep-neu
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Published in Proceedings of the Proceedings of the 20th International Academic Conference, Madrid, Nov 2015, pages 282-292

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